Perlite mining and reclamation in the No Agua Peaks, Taos County, New Mexico
Ennis, David J., P.G.
Perlite mining is an important extraction industry in New Mexico and the United States as a whole. In 2010, there were nine operating perlite mines owned by seven companies in six western states, with New Mexico leading the United States in perlite production. Over 375,000 metric tons of perlite were reported to have been produced in the United States in 2010, with an estimated ore value of $19.6 million. Currently there are three permitted and operating perlite mines in New Mexico: two in Taos County and one in Socorro County. Perlite is mined in Taos County at No Agua Peaks, an approximate 6.5 km2 area of rhyolitic domes among a succession of late Cenozoic volcanic and sedimentary rocks that overlie the Precambrian metamorphic and igneous rocks along the west side of the Taos Plateau. The New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s (EMNRD) Mining and Minerals Division (MMD) regulates, permits and oversees mineral extraction activities, and requires reclamation to a defined post-mining land use. Contemporaneous reclamation of a fine perlite dump (mill reject material) at the El Grande Mine, operated by Dicaperl Mineral Corporation, consisted of re-contouring, stabilization, control of surface water runoff, covering of waste material with a suitable growth media, and seeding to promote re-vegetation. on-going test plot studies to monitor revegetation success and develop new reclamation techniques are being conducted at the No Agua Mine, operated by Harborlite Corporation, in preparation of final or contemporaneous reclamation.
- Ennis, David J., P.G., 2011, Perlite mining and reclamation in the No Agua Peaks, Taos County, New Mexico, in: Geology of the Tusas Mountains and Ojo Caliente Area, Koning, Daniel J.; Karlstrom, Karl E.; Kelley, Shari A.; Lueth, Virgil W.; Aby, Scott B., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 62nd Field Conference, pp. 409-418.